Medeski Martin & Wood + Nels Cline have announced the release of The Woodstock Sessions (Vol. 2) on April 22. The four musicians came together to record on August 27, 2013 at Applehead Studios in Woodstock, NY in front of an intimate gathering of 75 lucky ticket holders. The session was part of a newly launched series that brings established and emerging recording artists together with their fans in the recording studio. The experience is a performance/session hybrid that supports the artist to fan bond by sharing the process of record making. The end results are inimitable recordings that capture inspired, one-off performances.
The initial collaboration between MMW and Nels Cline was a year earlier when they performed at The Blue Note for two sold out shows in New York City. They would later reconnect at Wilco’s Solid Sound Festival in western Massachusetts. The chemistry was immediate and ever since they’d been considering ways to record.
“When we talked to Nels about recording something, we felt live was the best way. And we started thinking again about this idea of an intimate concert/studio situation that would be a cool experience and fun for everyone. It seemed like the perfect thing to do,” says Medeski. “We wanted play together, record it, and not have to fix everything in the computer. Sometimes you go into the studio and start thinking too much. It changes everything. It might end up great, but it doesn’t have the same feeling as getting together to improvise and create in the moment for the moment. This is our moment with Nels!”
Together at Applehead Studios, the quartet jumped head first into nearly two hours of improvised music spread across two sets. They’d ricochet between ideas that run the gamut from avant noise to space funk, experimental jazz to electronic minimalism with nearly a million other musical impulses and currents spiraling from their dense web of sound. The recordings were later edited and mixed into nine separate tracks by the Applehead production/engineering team of Michael Birnbaum, Chris Bittner and Kevin Salem.
“There are a lot of different ways to make records. Too often, the process gets elongated, and I’ve made many records on recent years where no two musicians played in the same room at the same time. Michael and I sat down as producers and decided that we wanted to create a situation that would foster productivity and a modern organic approach to recording,” says Salem. “These are recording sessions, pure, simple and real. For the attendees, they get to see musicians in their creative habitat. The artists get the benefit of simplicity and urgency that comes with live recording. And as producers, we get to craft something really one-of-a-kind. Putting people in a room changes the dynamic, and that yields a tangible result that makes the sessions different from even standard live studio recording and certainly different from concert recordings.”
Heard in its entirety, The Woodstock Sessions (Vol. 2) presents some of the most imaginative playing ever documented in the vast discographies of either Medeski Martin & Wood or Nels Cline.